Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cray - Digest 54 review in Vital Weekly

CRAY – DIGEST 54 (cassette by SicSic Tapes)
'Digest 54' is a stellar and somewhat interstellar tape from Ross Healy's Cray project -- one which consistently supplies variegated textures and timbres, as well as an eye for the dramatic. Healy's pedigree as a leftfield electronic musician (including his time in EBM act This Digital Ocean, and a solo 2001 album for legendary weirdo-electro outpost BiP_HOp Records) comes through in the way these tracks grip you by the nether-regions and tug you in. Here he's laid down a collection of sound experiments, each side a fertile bed of treats sketched out by synthesizers. The beeps and burbles include Warp-like chords (“Delva,” “Heek”), slack zone-out audioscapes (“Corrupt,” “Un8d”), and the sultry tones of R2D2 hopped up on goofballs (“Premble”). “Ugly Martian,” meanwhile, takes the album crown with its walloping eighties crime-wave bass loop. The moments that draw into the background are pushed into the periphery mainly by the fast grip of the tape's more
toe-curling contingent; but these less immediate tracks are still, generally, worthy kicks at the can: the curious combination of liquid synth-slosh and throbbing powerline-glow on “Dabuda,” the dreary neon orbs that populate “Basquiat,” and so forth. There's a lot to process here, so much so that one is tempted to fault Healy for this record's disjointed structure. He skitters from idea to idea, seemingly out of a compulsion to document each of his distinct approaches to sound. Perhaps we can pin this on Healy's background in electronic music: listen to some of the stuff Rephlex was putting out a decade or so ago, and you'll encounter the same sense of things being thrown at the wall to see what sticks. But the key, as always, is the fact that Healy doesn't just smear turds on his canvas -- these tracks are legitimate sound-niblets, each with something compelling to share. Only eighty copies of this tape exist on this planet, so you're advised to act fast. (MT)